What are the first thoughts that run through your mind when something happens?
Are they positive and focused on the bright side of things? Or do you go straight to negativity and the dark side, no matter what?
Either way, it’s infectious. Your negative or positive thoughts multiply and spread throughout your mind, life and those around you. The more negative thoughts you have the deeper you train your brain to think negatively. You can either be negative no matter what happens or stay positive no matter happens.
A lone “things are falling apart,” or even a “FML” can echo in your mind and stick as the one track that just plays and plays and starts directing your life. The places where you should be able to find joy, seem joyless, your victories feel not good enough and even though you’re doing great, you can still feel like a failure.
Before you know if you’ve set a habit for yourself that requires you to train your mind to be positive. Thinking negatively is a habit, and like any bad habit, it can be broken.
Tough times come, that’s a fact (no fake news here sorry). Sadly, horrible things that will break your heart will happen too. But, if you train your mind to seek out positivity no matter what, those times will be incidents in your life, not a life-long instinct.
How to be Positive in Life
Recently there have been a lot of difficult changes in my life. During these transitions, I realized I can act and think in a negative way. I complain, I tell myself things aren’t working out, I quit before I even try, I judge people, and on and on. But recently, I realized that this negativity is holding me back from being happy and having fun. So a month ago I decided to be positive in life and embrace the power of positive thinking.
Being negative always made me feel gross. The occasional meanness that accompanies my negativity would keep me up at night. It didn’t sit well in my stomach. It wasn’t and isn’t who I want to be. I want to surround myself with positivity, to just be happy and the quickest way to do that is to first be positive with myself.
Looking back at how I become more happy and positive, there were some steps that I took to change my negative mindset. You can use these same steps to change any mindset or help you kick your negative habit with a little modification.
Step 1: Realize What You Are Doing
The first step to changing any bad habit (and thinking negatively is a habit!) is to realize you do it. Whether it’s being negative, compulsive lying, or even biting your fingernails. Once you’ve realized that you’re doing this negative thing you can start stopping yourself before you do it.
But before you get to stop your bad habit, you have to do something even harder, owning up to it. This may be to yourself to accept this project of personal growth, or it may be to a group of people you just did your bad habit in front of.
When you say something mean or put someone down, call yourself out. Tell them you’re sorry for being mean, you’re trying to change and be more positive and then continue on. It may seem hard at first, or uncomfortable, but if just do it and move on, it gets easier.
Step 2: Speak Positively
Going back to what I just said about recognizing what I’m saying to others, my negative mindset comes out of my mouth all the time. I complain about too much. I would not want to hang out with me just because of how negative I can get sometimes. So I call myself out and try to replace all the negative stuff I say with positive stuff. I have “Speak Positively, Live Positively” written in my planner so I never forget.
Speaking positively, to me, means looking on the bright side. Seeing good things instead of the bad. It also means holding my tongue, not partaking in gossip, not complaining. If I start with an outward approach of being positive, I start to actually feel more positive.
It’s like how, when you’re feeling down, and standing in front of a mirror smiling for five minutes actually make you feel happier. That’s how this works for me. You can start with your mindset and work from interior to exterior. But I like starting with my actions towards other people because at the end of the day, acting negatively to others is what I regret most.
Step 3: Remove Yourself from Situations that Make You Act Negatively
This may be a little harder because “situation” often means “someone you care about.” This may be a crush or a friend who always brings out the worst in you. They always encourage you to gossip or to say something mean. Or it can be even worse than that, a family member who brings out the negativity in your life. You may be thinking I’m about to tell you to cut them out of your life, but that’s not always the best thing to do. If it’s a friend or a crush, or someone who you deep down want to cut out, go for it. I have cut people out, other people have cut me out of their lives and we’re all better for it. But when it’s your oldest friend or even your mom, things are even more difficult.
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- Remember you’re trying to change you. This isn’t about them, it’s about you. Don’t take part in being negative or gossip. You can even tell them what you’re doing, “I’m trying to be more positive” hopefully they’ll understand and support you. If not, it’s not the end of the world, change the subject, talk about cute cat videos or some other thing they’re likely to be positive about.
- Take a break. If they continue to be negative around you, take a break to remember what you’re trying to accomplish and why it’s important. When you come back to the relationship, start being positive right away. Completely refuse to say something negative, or even to agree with something negative.
- Call them out. Tell them that they are being negative. Be nice about it. Ask if they’re feeling okay. The day I decided to be positive I had a situation where someone important to me had been negative the entire day. I felt uncomfortable around them but instead of running away I said, “Hey, I’ve noticed that you’ve been really negative lately” and then we had a conversation about why they felt down and we moved on. I felt way better calling them out, then simply shoving it under the rug. Often when people are being negative, it’s because of something external. Maybe they feel insecure or sad and being someone they can talk to will help.
Remember that there is nothing wrong with cutting people out. If you’ve tried to be friends with someone yet they continue to ruin the friendship by being negative, it’s fine to cut them out. Your happiness is number one and you should never feel bad for protecting it. And who knows, maybe you can be friends again after they have had some of their own personal growth.
Step 4: Remember to Cut Yourself Some Slack
Sometimes you may forget to stay positive all the time. Sometimes you have a bad day and need to vent. It’s okay to have a negative day, so long as it doesn’t negatively affect your life. You can’t beat yourself up for having these bad days. The most important thing is to come out the other side remembering why it’s important to have a positive mindset.
To me, positive mindset doesn’t have to mean I think the world is sunshine and roses all the time. Living that out means acting positively to other people, to creating a healthy, positive environment to live in, and focusing on being happy.
Step 5: Own It
If you’ve taken on a project of personal growth, be proud of yourself. You are enacting positive change in your life, talk about it like people talk about taking up yoga. The more you talk about your project the more accountable you will be, because people will know when you fall off the wagon. It will also make you feel great when people meet you with enthusiasm and encourage you. And if they don’t get it and are negative about it, remember #3.
Step 6: Have an Accountability Buddy
This may be your best friend or a significant other. If you want to change something about yourself you may not always realize when you are doing it. Having someone who can call you out in a kind manner can go a long way.
Accountability buddies are not only great for changing your mindset but also for other positive change you want to exact in your life. Whether it’s remembering to go to the gym, or eating healthy, having someone who will keep you accountable and encourage you is awesome.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Over the last two months, I’ve been happier and the least stressed I’ve been in years, all because I decided to be positive. Apart from feeling better I also find myself more outgoing and more likely to put myself out there to achieve my goals.
The wonderful thing was that all this positive change came out of one small decision to change the way I think. Little changes in my life that have resulted in big benefits.
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Affirmations are a powerful way to rewire my brain for positivity (or build up your “positivity instincts”). They’re short, they’re powerful and they pack a serious punch when used regularly. You can whisper them, you can shout them, no matter how you use them, they do the trick.
Just print, cut and keep these positive affirmations where you can see them. From on your office wall, as a bookmark, or taped to the side of your monitor or ever to your bathroom mirror.
Sending you positive vibes.
Remember, “speak positivity, live positivity!”
How do you stay positive?
More About Guest Contributor
Grace R. Taylor is the writer behind The Un(grace)ful Blog, a blog on which she shares stories about her life as a student, random thoughts, and writing advice. Her blog is somewhere between an open diary and a commentary on her experiences. When she’s not working on her blog or attending classes, you can usually find her hiding in plain sight, working on her debut novel in a cafe or in the library. Grace hopes to have her writing published outside the digital world in the next year. Until then, and for the foreseeable future, she will continue to post on her blog every Monday.